We live in a digital world where our company's data and (crucially) our customers' data is under constant attack. Hackers are always looking for new ways to break into your systems and databases - and this has resulted in many significant data breaches in recent years.
When your security is breached, and your data is compromised, this isn't just an IT issue, however. It's a breach of trust between you, your customers and your suppliers - one that can be hugely damaging for your brand reputation and consumer's perception of the company.
So, why are so few companies taking cyber security seriously? And what can you do to enhance your cybersecurity and protect your valuable data?
In the 21st century, your data = your business
It's the customer information in your CRM system, the supplier details in your invoicing system and the financial data in your accounting software. It's your bank account details, your confidential client information and your company's secret intellectual property or hard-won R&D findings.
If you lose your data, you damage the business too. So protecting the safety and security of your data and systems has to be a top priority for any business owner.
To boost your cyber security:
- Make cyber security a company-wide concern - if a data breach occurs, there's no use blaming your IT supplier after the fact. Cyber security has to be a concern for the whole business and something where you have clear advice, processes and training in place for. The better your people are prepared for protecting the company's valuable data, the less chance there will be of a security error or accidental data breach.
- Keep devices and computing hardware secure - where your employees are using laptops and work mobile devices, it's vital that they keep this hardware safe. Don't leave computers unattended in laptop bags in a coffee shop or bar, and don't leave your phone unsupervised on a hot desk. Offer secure lockers and desk drawers where laptops and devices can be secured and always think about the security implications of leaving your hardware anywhere other than in the office.
- Use a secure network connection - when connecting to work applications, databases and shared folders, always use the company network or an approved virtual private network (VPN). By using a secure network connection, you greatly reduce the chances of your data being intercepted and stolen, with VPNs allowing employees to log in securely when off-site or working at a client's premises.
- Save important data in the right place - you should have clear protocols regarding what kinds of data can be saved, and where this information should be stored. If employees are storing spreadsheets full of confidential client information on their laptop hard drives, you are only one lost laptop away from a security breach. Set up clear guidelines on which drives and folders to use, and make sure only the right people have access to any confidential folders and content.
- Use proper authentication and encryption - use two-factor authentication or even multi-factor authentication for access to all your cloud and SaaS tools. And make sure you have proper data encryption of any confidential information that's shared. By putting the best possible security steps in place, you greatly reduce the risk of a slip-up.
- Factor in the added security threat of WFH - with so many employees now working from home (WFH), there are extra threats to factor in. Good cyber security at home means using a secure VPN, keeping laptops safely stored, always using the latest versions of applications and not sharing passwords with family or flatmates etc.
- Log all security breaches - if the worst-case scenario does happen, make sure to log every single security or data breach - and be transparent about what's happened when communicating with customers, suppliers or employees who may have been affected. The sooner all your stakeholders are aware of the issue, the sooner you can work to resolve the problem and limit the potential damage.
Speak to IT security experts and protect your data
Keeping your data safe and secure is now a foundational need for any business. If you want to reduce your security worries, it's sensible to speak to a cyber security expert. They will be able to review your current systems, networks and security practices and advise you on the key actions that are needed to tighten up your security.